Gas Week

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Burmese protests began after sudden fuel-price rises: now a mass movement against military repression and economic hardship

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

At least three monks were killed in clashes with Burmese security forces who cracked down on anti­-government protests in Rangoon, reported The Daily Telegraph (27/9/2007, p.27).

Now a mass movement: Troops fired shots over the heads of large crowds in Burma’s main city last night, sending people scurrying for cover as a crackdown against the biggest anti-junta pro­tests in 20 years intensified. The protests began a month ago after sudden fuel price rises and became a mass movement against military repression and economic hardship. “They are marching down the streets, with the monks in the middle, and ordinary people either side. They are shielding them, form­ing a human chain,” one witness said over almost deafening roars of anger at security forces last night. Riot police fired tear gas at col­umns of monks trying to push their way past barricades sealing off the Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s holi­est shrine and the starting point of marches over the past month.

Test of wills: World leaders have appealed to the junta to exercise restraint since the protests mushroomed into a major revolt after shots were fired over protesting monks in the central town of Pakokku on September 5. As many as 200 maroon-robed monks were arrested outside the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda as the Buddhist priesthood, the former Burma’s highest moral authority, went head-to-head with the might of a military that has ruled for an unbroken 45 years. “This is a test of wills between the only two institutions in the country that have enough power to mobilise nationally,” retired World Bank official in Burma, Bradley Babson said. Despite defiant crowds swirling around downtown Rangoon, the number of marching monks was well below levels seen in the pre­ceding two days, when they stretched five city blocks chanting “democracy, democracy” with no visible security presence.

The Daily Telegraph, 27/9/2007, p. 27

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